Factory’s Pollution Victimizes Half a Million People in Central China

By Lu Fang & Zhu Jiaqi
Sound of Hope Radio Network
Created: February 22, 2010 Last Updated: February 22, 2010
Related articles: China » Democracy & Human Rights
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A steel worker labours in front of a blast furnace at the Chongqing Iron and Steel Factory on September 16, 2006 in Chongqing Municipality, China. (China Photos/Getty Images)

A steel worker labours in front of a blast furnace at the Chongqing Iron and Steel Factory on September 16, 2006 in Chongqing Municipality, China. (China Photos/Getty Images)

A factory in Hunan Province has been emitting toxic metals which have polluted water sources in over ten townships. Though cancer cases have skyrocketed, and 51,834 children have been identified with excessive blood levels of lead and cadmium, victims are powerless, since the company is a state-owned enterprise.

Situated in Xinhua County, the Antimony Metallurgical Factory of the Hsikwangshan Twinkling Star Co., Ltd. (HTS) was built in May 2003. Since then, 358,000 mu (59,300 acres) of farmland, vegetable plots, orchards, fish ponds, and the drinking water for humans and livestock in over ten townships in the lower reaches of the Zijiang River, have been seriously polluted. A total of 566,000 people have been victimized.

The number of cancer patients has increased by 28,377 in the county, and is much higher than that of other areas in China, according to resident Mr. Zeng Peigui.

Mr. Zeng was interviewed by Sound of Hope Radio. He said that whenever the waste water is drained from the factory, the fish in the rivers die, and the local people get sick, as the water is contaminated with zinc, lead, arsenic, cadmium, and other chemicals.

The local environmental protection agency turns a blind eye “as Chinese officials are used to protecting official interests,” Zeng said. Citizens appealed to the authorities, but never got any help “as the authorities are not really concerned about ordinary people’s livelihood,” he added.

Turning a blind eye to dead fish and cancer

The factory secretly drilled three deep wells of several dozen meters in Aug. 2007, seriously polluting the drinking water in several more villages. Moreover, the factory colluded with village cadres to force fish farmers to leave their aquafarms in order to provide additional acreage for the plant’s spare sewage ponds.

Local residents submitted a petition, “but it didn’t work whatsoever,” according to Ms. Zou Yanhong, a local resident. “We filed a lawsuit against them years ago, but there’s no judgment from the court yet. This company is an interest group,” she said, adding that the local victims could not really afford to sue them.

Zeng also told Sound of Hope radio, ”The government seems to be only focusing on protecting enterprises.”

The petition, which was taken to Beijing, also pointed out that the Xinhua County Environmental Protection Agency took 34 samples of the industrial waste water that has been illegally emitted into drinking water sources by the factory, and test results showed that the levels of toxic substances including arsenic, lead, cadmium, ammonia, nitrogen, chlorine, and phenol, as well as the pH value, seriously exceeded standards set by the agency.

Read the original Chinese article



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